Mainland Chinese tourist accuses Hong Kong taxi driver of overcharging by nearly 300%
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Mainland Chinese tourist accuses Hong Kong taxi driver of overcharging by nearly 300%

Hong Kong’s government is seeking to crack down on bad behaviour by the city’s taxi drivers. (Photo: South China Morning Post)
Hong Kong’s government is seeking to crack down on bad behaviour by the city’s taxi drivers. (Photo: South China Morning Post)

HONG KONG: A Shenzhen-based tourist has complained about being "ripped off" by a Hong Kong taxi driver for being asked to pay HK$600 (2,800 baht), nearly three times the usual fare, on his first day in town for the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend.

The complaint on Friday came amid the government's wider drive to crack down on cabbies' bad behaviour.

The tourist took to the Instagram-like Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu to complain about his HK$600 trip from Shenzhen Bay Immigration Control Point in Tuen Mun to the Hong Kong International Airport.

A search on three different ride-hailing platforms - Uber, HKTaxi and Fly Taxi - showed that the route of about 28 kilometres cost between HK$228 and HK$278 at about 6pm on Saturday.

"Not only is the integrity of Hong Kong's service industry worse than Singapore's, it's also lagging behind second- and third-tier cities on the mainland," the user said in a post.

"The distance was not shown on the receipt, and I asked the driver about it, but he switched to Cantonese to confuse me. The moment he tried to snatch my receipt, I knew I was ripped off," the post read, showing a receipt that detailed a surcharge of HK$573.

"I was furious and disappointed," the traveller wrote. "This HK$600 trip ruined my chirpy mood on the first morning of my holiday."

The traveller said he filed a report with the airport police with a photo he took of the receipt and the taxi's number plate.

The South China Morning Post has reached out to police for comment.

This Xiaohongshu post attracted over 160 comments, with many of them recounting their own experiences of being overcharged by Hong Kong taxis, while the posts with the hashtag "Hong Kong taxis ripping off passengers" fetched 301,000 views and counting.

Taxi passengers, local and overseas alike, have long complained about various poor service by cab drivers. In addition to overcharging, the most common complaints include refusal to take certain routes, speeding and rudeness.

The taxi industry's poor reputation has made the ride-hailing platform Uber popular in the city, despite doubts about its legality. Ride-hailing services are illegal for vehicles without a hire-car permit in Hong Kong.

Cabbies in the city have accused Uber of undermining its business and campaigned for the government to ban it.

The government has rolled out initiatives to improve taxi services, including the introduction of a demerit point system in September, as well as the creation of premium taxi fleets across the city.

On Saturday, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung said the government would monitor the five operators to be chosen under the city's new taxi fleet scheme, by requesting data from their proprietors regarding how they handled complaints or customer's rating of their performance.

Lam noted that this data would be used as part of a midterm review.

"If they perform poorly, we would issue warnings in some instances demanding they make improvements before a certain time," he said, adding the government would consider reducing their scale of service or even suspend their licences if they failed to improve.

Hong Kong's taxi industry rolled out a three-month courtesy drive on Wednesday in a bid to improve its reputation, by deploying ambassadors to cab ranks, including those at the airport and border checkpoints, to encourage drivers to be polite to passengers.

Official statistics showed that taxi service complaints and suggestions were 52.8% higher in 2023 at 11,096 from 2022, with cab drivers refusing a hire and overcharging passengers among the top complaints.

The Hong Kong Taxi Council said the initiative was more about educating drivers and that measuring its success would be challenging.

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